VDO: Refugees Behind Greece & Macedonia Border in Freezing Cold Weather

Sat Jan 23, 2016 13:49:01

On Friday, Macedonia again stopped accepting entrance to refugees heading north from Greece to wealthier European countries, leaving around 750 people stranded on the Greek side of the border near the village of Idomeni. Only a small fraction of them are in a heated shelter.Macedonia shut and then opened its border with Greece to refugees several times this week.

The following stage of their trip, crossing from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), will face more obstacles.

This frontier could soon become the end of the road for more refugees trying to reach northern Europe.

It's not only border closures by Greece's neighbor that threatens the journey of hundreds of refugees but new rules imposed to restrict those wanting to continue on the Balkan route.

"In addition to all the identification and registration paperwork, they now have to register at the police cabin at the end of their stay at this camp, and state their destination country. They then take that paper to the border, and the police at the border will check it. And unless it says Germany or Austria, they are not allowed to cross into FYROM. So even if they Syrian, Afghan or Iraqi nationals, if it does not say Germany or Austria, they are turned back from the border," said Gemma Gillie, spokesperson for the local Doctors Without Borders mission.

Aid agencies are providing food and shelter, but are unable to help with long-term plans.

Police control the flow of refugees heading towards the border through a nearby gas station. Buses are stopped here, sometimes for a day, before reaching the border. Though Doctors Without Borders have set up some tents, hundreds of refugees must fend for themselves.

Though lacking food, Marwan Arefi from Afghanistan said that he was happy to have reached where he was, considering how far he had come and how hard his journey had been so far.

"I want to go on to a country that does not have any war," he said.

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